Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Quinta Jurecic
Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 2:08 PM

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) announced that former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may have broken federal law in failing to disclose on his security clearance application that he had received money from the Russian government for a 2015 speech in Moscow and from the Turkish government as payment for lobbying work. Chaffetz and Cummings also stated that Flynn failed to request permission from the U.S. government to accept the payments, as is legally required for a retired military officer. The White House has refused to provide documents requested by the Committee relating to Flynn’s security clearance form and his possible contacts with foreign officials. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal all have the story.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates will testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 8 on Russian interference in the U.S. election, the AP writes. Yates was previously set to testify before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence before the hearing was abruptly canceled by committee chairman Representative Devin Nunes. Meanwhile, Reuters reports on the staffing problems faced by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigation into Russian election meddling. Only seven Senate employees are working on the investigation full-time.

The campaign of French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron faced cyberattacks by the Russian actors responsible for the 2016 hacks of Democratic campaign officials, the Times tells us. A security firm traced phishing attacks aimed at officials within Macron’s campaign to the group known as Fancy Bear or APT28, widely believed to be a Russian intelligence organization. Macron’s campaign says that the hacking attempt was likely not successful, the Journal writes.

Tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula as North Korea conducted a major artillery drill this Tuesday, while a U.S. submarine arrived in South Korea and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson continues to head toward the region. The Times reports that North Korea may be capable of producing a new nuclear weapon every six to seven weeks, a technological advancement that explains why the United States government is increasingly concerned over the possibility of a looming crisis.

The entire U.S. Senate will attend a briefing at the White House on North Korea after President Trump suggested shifting the venue from a secure room at the Capitol to the White House itself. The Post reports on the unusual setup, which has staffers puzzled.

A Chinese court sentenced an American businesswoman to three and a half years in prison on espionage charges, though she may be deported from China before serving out her sentence. Phan Phan-Gillis was arrested by Chinese authorities in 2015. The Times has more.

The White House imposed new sanctions on 271 Syrians employed by a research center involved in the production of the sarin used in a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier this month. The Post notes that all those sanctioned were already subject to previous U.S. sanctions issued under the George W. Bush administration, though not by name.

Reuters reports that airstrikes conducted by the Syrian and Russian governments bombarded a hospital in the country’s rebel-held Idlib province. A hospital spokesman said that 14 people had been killed, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that no deaths had taken place but that the hospital was no longer functioning.

Turkey conducted airstrikes against Syrian Kurdish forces in both northern Syria and Iraq in what the Turkish military described as an effort to prevent the smuggling of weapons and fighters over the Turkish border, the AP writes. At least 18 Syrian Kurdish fighters and five Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga were killed in the strikes, which Iraq denounced as a violation of the country’s sovereignty.

The Miami Herald reports on the latest news from Guantanamo, where prosecutors in the Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi military commission case are seeking testimony from another Guantanamo detainee to positively identify al-Hadi as an al-Qaeda commander. Defense lawyers have argued that al-Hadi’s case may actually be one of mistaken identity.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Ocampo suggested that the United States might most effectively avoid an ICC investigation into U.S. detention practices in Afghanistan by turning to the status-of-forces agreement between Afghanistan and the United States.

Quinta Jurecic argued that President Trump’s two Twitter accounts, @POTUS and @realDonaldTrump, reflect the medieval political theology of the “King’s Two Bodies.”

Ryan Scoville suggested that the original meaning of the Appointments Clause may prohibit the President from terminating or renegotiating U.S. participation in trade agreements without Senate confirmation of the officials involved.

Jane Chong flagged an upcoming discussion at the Hoover Institution with representatives of the Syrian White Helmets.

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